MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The same jury that convicted Joel Lebron for abducting, robbing, gang-raping, and murdering Ana Maria Angel has recommended he receive the death penalty.
Angel and her boyfriend were attacked ten and a half years ago by Lebron and four others. Her boyfriend had his throat slashed, but he survived. Lebron wielded the knife and the gun used to kill Angel during the attacks.
Prosecutor Reid Rubin told jurors Lebron “knew what he was doing.”
“He enjoyed it,” Rubin said, in describing how Lebron joined in raping the 18 year-old South Miami senior, violating her in every way imaginable.
Rubin called Ana Maria a very special girl.
“She wasn’t ordinary, she was extraordinary. She wasn’t hurting anybody. She was minding her own business when she was abducted and raped by that man,” Rubin said, pointing at Lebron.
After the sentencing, family friend Gloria Montoya said Ana Maria had a promising future, “she came here as a child from Colombia, South America looking for a better life for a protected life and look what she got.”
In court, Rubin pulled the trigger on the murder weapon, a .38 caliber revolver, that first failed to fire twice during the execution-style murder.
“He began to fire this gun while she pleaded for her life,” Rubin said.
Rubin recounted a conversation Lebron had with an officer shortly after he was arrested.
“How did you feel when you killed the girl?” Rubin quoted the officer as asking. “What did he say? He said, ‘I felt like a King.’”
Rubin said the death penalty was appropriate because of the “cruel, heinous and atrocious” nature of the crime.
Lebron admitted killing Ana Maria to avoid apprehension.
“He did it because he thought she could identify him,” Rubin said. “He did it because he wanted to get away with murder.”
Following the death penalty recommendation, the jurors were escorted to their cars and didn’t speak to the media, but Ana Maria’s family and friends did comment on the ending of a long journey.
“I am at peace knowing we got justice. In this country, justice can be achieved,” Ana Maria’s mother, Margarita Osorio said.
Ana Maria’s good friend, Jessica Gutierrez, said she prayed for the recommended sentence.
“She was a wonderful person,” Gutierrez said. “The way she died was, you know,” Gutierrez’s voice choked at the point, she was unable to go on.
Montoya said she is, ’ extremely thankful to the jury and I know that they’ve been extremely brave throughout this process it is hard to take someone’s life in your own hand.”
The judge will next hold a “spencer hearing” in which both sides can present arguments the jury was not permitted to hear. The judge will then take some time to prepare a written sentencing order, and read it at a subsequent hearing.
The next hearing is scheduled for November 9, according to CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald.